Topiary is back in vogue. And for good reason, too. The clever sculpting of plants into verdant pieces of living art is a fabulous way to introduce structure, texture and year-round interest to your garden.
Balls, pyramids, domes, spirals and a menagerie of animal shapes are among the trendiest garden features you can grow, but they do require a fair bit of skill and patience.
Luckily, there are easier ways and nifty tricks that will transform you from a nervous topiary novice to a talented trimmer in next to no time. So, sharpen those shears, it’s time to make the cut.
Pick of the bunch
Inspired to try your hand at topiary? Here’s a selection of the best plants to use.
• English box (Buxus sempervirens)
• Japanese box (Buxus microphylla var. japonica)
• Westringia ‘Jervis Gem’
• Box honeysuckle (Lonicera nitida)
• Lilly pilly (Syzygium sp.)
• Conifers, such as juniper
Tips for growing topiary
Aspect Position your topiary in an open, sunny spot so the entire sculpture receives plenty of light. If one side is shaded, the foliage will die on that side, causing a bare patch. If you’re growing in pots, rotate the pot a quarterturn each week so all sides receive even light exposure.
Feeding To ensure lush growth, feed twice a year with a slow-release fertiliser, such as Yates Garden Gold Fertiliser, in early spring and late summer. For an extra boost, feed with a soluble or seaweed-based plant food. Mix according to pack instructions, and apply to the roots. Then pour into a spray bottle and mist the foliage.
Maintenance Pruning is key. A light prune once a month should be sufficient. However, during summer, when the plant is actively growing, you can increase the frequency to every 2-3 weeks, if required. In winter, extend the time between trims as the plant does not sprout new growth. This varies depending on your climate zone and plant species.
Pests Thrips and aphids can damage and weaken your plant. Spray them with an insecticide such as Confidor or Defender MaxGuard